27 July 2008

Butterflies and the Bard

On my first day in England, I, having an entire day to burn, decided to do something throughly English---I hopped a train to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see where Shakespeare was born.  I've never been much for blatantly touristy things, and working in a souvenir shop has only inflated this, but I did enjoy the birthplace of England's greatest writer...after I figured out how to stay away from all the crowds.  

I payed a few pounds and took a boat tour of the river that puts the "Avon" in "Stratford-Upon-Avon"

We saw some beautiful swans and ugly ducklings

This was my favorite part of the day--Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare went and is buried.  It's a gorgeous church on the banks of the Avon with some impressive history and beautiful windows.  The caretaker was so happy to be there giving out pamphlets to everyone, encouraging them to use their cameras, and graciously giving student discounts to poor travelers like me.

The inscription on Shakespeare's grave--"Good friend for Jesus' sake forbear to dig the dust enclosed here.  Blest be the man that spares these stones and curst be he that moves my bones"--is the reason why he hasn't been moved to Westminster Abbey to be buried with all the other famous Englishmen.

The English countryside is devastatingly beautiful!

English trains pretty much kick American trains' cabooses.

The house that Shakespeare grew up in!

A living statue of Shakespeare.  He took a liking to me and bowed to me, then laughed at me (not with me) when I tried to shake his hand American style (he was going for the Victorian fingers-only approach).  I've never been laughed at by a statue before.

While in such an English city, I indulged in that favorite of English pastimes, tea!  This is a setup called Cream Tea--it's English Breakfast tea with a currant scone served with clotted Devonshire cream and preserves.  It's amazing.

One of my favorite things I did while in Stratford was to go to the butterfly garden.  Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about butterflies--this is a big deal for me.  It was so amazing to be surrounded by them all the time, although it was a bit weird to have them hitting me in midair.  This little guy settled on my leg for awhile and had the most beautiful blue wings (on the inside).

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